There are two major hurdles you have to face as a consequence of your DUI arrest in Los Angeles County:
You must request, then attend, a DMV Hearing. A Stay and a Hearing buy you more time to drive and a chance at avoiding a license suspension.
You must go to court to face criminal charges for DUI or drunk driving.
The terrible thing about a DUI is that the court and DMV have separate and independent powers over your driver’s license. This can be very confusing; so be aware of this fact in determining what can happen to your license.
DMV Hearing vs Court
How is the DMV Hearing different from your Court Hearing for DUI?
The DMV Hearing:-
- The DMV hearing is an administrative proceeding regarding your driving privilege and the circumstances surrounding your arrest.
- The DMV hearing is optional
- It is held at a DMV office
- The DMV hearing is independent of the Court hearing
Your Court Hearing:-
- The court hearing deals with whether you are innocent or guilty of a criminal act.
- The court hearing is mandatory.
- At your court hearing you appear in front of a judge.
Learn more from the DMV website about DMV Administrative Hearings vs Criminal Court Trials .
Hurdle #1 – the DMV
Try to save your license with a DMV Hearing
Get a Stay and a Hearing
How to Win a DMV Hearing
Who attends your DMV Hearing
Your DMV Hearing is an administrative hearing with the DMV, not a court hearing. Your case is assigned to a DMV Hearing Officer. You can go by yourself or optionally with your attorney. A Public Defender is not available for DMV Hearings. Normally the arresting police officer will not come to the DMV hearing unless you or the DMV subpoena him.
Your Police Report
The DMV Hearing Officer will presume you are guilty and will usually rely exclusively on your police report at the hearing. If you requested a copy of your police report when you asked for a DMV Hearing, you should receive the report about 10 days before the Hearing.
Your DMV Hearing is usually 1-3 months after your arrest.
Useful Links (dmv.ca.gov)
- DUI Arrest DMV Administrative Hearings vs Criminal Court Trials 
- Information About Driver Safety Administrative Hearings 
- Driver Safety Administrative Hearings Process 
Hurdle #2 – Your Court Case
Plea Bargain vs Jury Trial
DUI Courts in LA County
What to expect at your first appearance in court
Your first appearance in court is called an arraignment where you are brought before a criminal court judge. The address of the court and your court appearance date are listed on your ticket.
Who can help
If you have an attorney, he or she may be able to appear in court on your behalf. Some courts will let you speak with a public defender for assistance at arraignment.
At your arraignment (your first appearance in court), you have four options:
- You can request a Public Defender to represent you. If you do this the judge may ask you about your financial situation.
- You can ask for an extension of time, called a Continuance of the arraignment. People often do this for additional time to hire an attorney or investigate their options.
- You may enter a “Not Guilty” Plea. This means that you will take your case to trial and select a jury to decide your guilt or innocence. The court will give you a future date, called a pre-trial.
- Or you may resolve the case with a Plea of “Guilty” or “No Contest”. The prosecutor may give you a favourable plea bargain early in the process to clear his or her caseload.
See how to choose between plea bargain or jury trial .
At your arraignment, you should be given a criminal complaint which lists the charges against you. A typical first time DUI will have a complaint that lists two charges:-
- Vehicle Code 23152(a) The first charge is driving while impaired. The Prosecutor will have to prove that you drove while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and will rely primarily on the arresting police officer’s observations, as well as any other witnesses.
- Vehicle Code 23152(b)  The second charge is driving with an alcohol level of .08% or higher. This charge is usually based primarily on the results of the chemical tests – your breath or blood tests taken at the police station after your arrest.
Your Police Report
You should receive a copy of your police report  at your arraignment if you did not already get it from the DMV. Review this carefully for any inaccuracies or exaggerations.